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9 Stars Who Played Themselves

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In the hit apocalyptic comedy This is the End, Seth Rogen (who co-wrote the film with his frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg), James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Aziz Ansari, and Rihanna are just some of the stars to appear as themselves in the jam-packed flick. Well, at least an intentionally over-the-top variation of themselves. As Danny McBride (who is portrayed as a Channing Tatum worshipper turned cannibal in the deranged comedy) explained to, "Everybody is definitely portrayed in a way that is a little more grotesque than they normally are." Take, for instance, Michael Cera playing himself as a coked-up, Capri Sun-sipping d-bag, or Mindy Kaling playing herself as someone who wants to have sex with that particular Michael Cera. (Though, in our minds, we'd like to imagine that Watson really would steal all of McBride's stuff like she does in the trailer.)

But the crop of current Hollywood stars that appear in This is the End is hardly the first to play an embellished version of themselves on the big or small screen. Here are nine of the most outrageous times a star played themselves ... or someone like them.

1. Kate Winslet on Extras

On his comedy series Extras, creator/star Ricky Gervais had a knack for getting esteemed British actors and actresses to play crass, clueless, or downright cruel versions of themselves. Whether it was a perv-y Sir Patrick Stewart spending an uncomfortable amount of time coming up with ways to get ladies naked or a sexually ambitious Daniel Radcliffe literally waving condoms around, all they had in common with these "characters" was their namesake. Fellow universally-liked star Kate Winslet played "herself" in an uproarious season 1 episode in which the actress was portrayed as a cynical, un-PC star who only chose to be in a Holocaust movie because it would win her accolades. In a delicious bit of irony, three years later the humble and good-humored Winslet would go on to win her first long-overdue Oscar ... for appearing in a Holocaust movie. Even better, Gervais made a crack about the coincidence during his 2009 Golden Globes hosting stint.

2. Liam Neeson on Life's Too Short

Thankfully, when it came to stars playing the worst possible version of themselves, Gervais didn't stop with Extras. Even though his follow-up, Life's Too Short, didn't hit quite the same nerve, Liam Neeson's appearance as a stoic, unintentionally hilarious Liam Neeson made the whole series worthwhile. In his instant classic segment, "Liam Neeson" wanted to make his segue into stand-up and sketch comedy with terribly unfunny bits about contracting "full-blown AIDS" and getting his role as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List because he loved making lists. Turns out, Liam Neeson is pretty damn funny after all.

3. Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

How I Met Your Mother may have propelled former child star Neil Patrick Harris back onto the A-list, but it was his appearance in the cult 2004 stoner comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle that really transformed him from Doogie to legendary. In the movie, NPH is an insane, Ecstasy-riddled hitchhiker on the hunt for, as he not so delicately puts it, "poon tang." Just a little bit of a departure from the homosexual father of two in a long-committed relationship with a penchant for musical theater and being one of the most-liked guys in Hollywood. But the stunt casting worked: The cameo put Harris back on the map and helped spawn two Harold & Kumar sequels, both of which he appeared in as "himself."

4. James Van Der Beek on Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23

Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek has always had a good sense of humor about himself and his status as a former teen heartthrob, but that very same sense of humor about fame and his place in Hollywood was never better than when he played "himself" in the all-too-short-lived ABC comedy Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23. In the series, Van Der Beek played a raging egomaniac and single Lothario (in real life, the 36-year-old is a married father of two), but anyone with that big of an ego would never be willing to play someone so scummy with their same name.

5. Matt LeBlanc on Episodes

Matt LeBlanc earned a Golden Globe (it's no Soapie, but still pretty damn impressive) for his performance as ... Matt LeBlanc. The former Friends star plays a dopey, desperate version of himself on the Showtime satire. In fact, LeBlanc is such a jerk on Episodes that all of his Friends castmates have turned against him or downright hate him since their hit show wrapped. That's a fate far worse than Joey.

6. John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich

Everything is a little bit off in Spike Jonze's brilliant, but infinitely bizarre, Being John Malkovich ... including John Malkovich himself. Sure, the Oscar-nominated actor is a little bit strange, but he most certainly doesn't have a portal that leads you into his brain and allows you to experience the world as John Malkovich. (At least, we're pretty sure he doesn't.)

7. Cate Blanchett in Coffee and Cigarettes

Cate Blanchett is a effortlessly cool and stunningly beautiful actress, so we'd say that her turn as herself in 2003's Coffee and Cigarettes wasn't much of a stretch as an effortlessly cool and stunningly beautiful actress named Cate Blanchett. Then again, it's a safe bet the real Cate Blanchett doesn't often find herself having bizarre, uncomfortable meetings with a cousin who looks exactly like her.

8. Howard Stern in Private Parts

You either love Howard Stern—or love to hate him. Of course, if you saw his biographical 1997 film Private Parts, your opinion of the shock jock may have changed, whichever side you fell on. Stern played himself in his life story and the most shocking thing of all turned out to be that the humorous host wasn't just the loudmouth misogynist we tuned into (or as far away as possible from) on our radio dial during our morning commutes, but an ambitious, surprisingly human, and yes, even a little bit sweet, regular guy with some big dreams.

9. Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm

Out of everyone on this list, Larry David is probably the closest to his "Larry David" on the master class in awkward comedy, Curb Your Enthusiasm (which is chock full of stars playing variations of themselves). He's a neurotic, a curmudgeon, a tremendous talent, a total bastard, and above all, a comedy genius. Of course, if the real-life David was anything remotely like his on-screen likeness, he'd probably have burned every bridge in Hollywood by now because he's pretttt-ay, pretttt-ay, prettttttt-ay annoying.

Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
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Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.

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11 Incredible Stephen Hawking Quotes
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When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at age 21, doctors thought he'd only survive a few more years. But the theoretical physicist defied the odds: Hawking, who passed away yesterday, lived to be 76. Here are 11 quotes from the director of research and founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time


"At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided."

— From the lecture "My Brief History," 2010


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010


“I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.”

— From a lecture at Arizona State University, April 2011


"If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can."

— From "Handicapped People and Science," Science Digest 92, No. 9, September 1984


"I would go back to 1967, and the birth of my first child, Robert. My three children have brought me great joy."

— To The New York Times, May 2011


"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."

— From Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays


"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


"Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."

— From Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, 2010

9. On HIS I.Q.

"I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

— To The New York Times, December 2004


“They are a complete mystery.”

— To New Scientist, January 2012


"One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

— To Diane Sawyer/ABC News, June 2010


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